Sunday Feb 25
Review: Sublime with Rome – Sirens

Sublime with Rome – Sirens
SwRTrack Listing:
1.) Sirens (ft. Dirty Heads)
2.) Wherever You Go
3.) Brazilia
4.) House Party
5.) Been Losing Sleep
6.) Promise Land Dubb
7.) Best of Me
8.) Put Down Your Weapon
9.) Run And Hide
10.) Skankin’
11.) Gasoline

The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: July 17th, 2015
Record Label: BMG
Official Website: SwR Website

Artist Background:
15 years after the passing of Sublime’s front-man Brad Nowell, Sublime’s drummer Bud Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson found a young singer/guitarist and songwriter in Rome Ramirez to release a new album with Yours Truly back in July of 2011. What started out as a surprise show in Reno, NV, propelled into the trio announcing they were reforming as “Sublime” with new singer/guitarist, Rome Ramirez. The controversy began to grow after the group booked themselves to play the 2009 Cypress Hill “Smokeout” billed as “Sublime”. After a back and forth legal battle with the Nowell Estate, Bud & Eric were able to settle and compromise with continuing on as a trio under the name “Sublime With Rome”. Part of the settlement includes the Nowell estate receives an equal share from the group as if Brad Nowell was still an active member. But the debate continues and has resonated between old & new generation Sublime fans over whether they should keep the name “Sublime” vs starting this project under a different title.

In 2011, Sublime with Rome released their debut album, Yours Truly with 15 total songs of original music behind new front-man Rome Ramirez. Shortly after the album release, and do to creative differences, drummer Bud Gaugh left the band and was replaced by renowned drummer and musician, Josh Freese. Now 4 years after their debut release, Sublime with Rome is back with their sophomore album titled Sirens and with it, they continue to bring the controversy of using the name ‘Sublime’ with only one remaining active member in Eric Wilson. The bulk of the songs on Sirens were written by Rome Ramirez working with studio engineer and producer Paul Leary.

Album Review:
There are 2 things I am certain of, 1…there is no way to write this review without pissing some people off and 2, fans seem to be split down the middle on what to expect from Sublime with Rome in relation to the epic legacy created by the original Sublime. Some say it is not fair to compare and the bands should be judged by their own merits, but I believe if you are going to benefit from the legacy (sold out tours, built in fan base, etc…) get ready to live or die by it.

Fans that found Sublime from discovering SWR first may actually love this record, but diehard Sublime fans are going to have feelings ranging from acceptance to downright betrayal. We are talking about one of the most influential bands in the last 30 years and everyone will be critical as expectations are massive. The comparison also can’t be lost because of the almost formulaic and forced inclusions of ska, reggae, hip hop and punk; genres the original Sublime so easily and frantically danced between that SWR can’t as authentically sell.

This album is very well produced, the band is tight and Rome has proven he has a great, pop friendly voice… but is this what fans are looking for?

The album kicks off with the title track “Sirens” featuring Dirty Heads which includes maybe the most recognizable Beastie Boys sample, foreshadowing the cookie cutter samples and scratches to follow. Hip hop influenced reggae tunes with DJ’s playing a prominent role was pretty groundbreaking in the 90’s, but hearing it now can come across played out and tired.

“Wherever You Go” is a great song, fit for the radio and will reach a new audience for the band. “Brazilla” might be my favorite on the record. The chorus has a dissonant haunting feel which complimented the lyrical themes very well. “House Party” is going to be the anthem at a party you should have never gone to in the first place and can’t leave no matter how hard you try… The forced “mother fucking house party” lyrics and delivery is a contrived effort at emotion that falls short.

“Promise Land Dubb”, a loose cover of Dennis Brown, is a 2 chord reggae tune featuring some awesome percussion by drummer Josh Freese; The fills on this one are outstanding. This song for me is the most “Sublime” tune on the record with rhythmic experimentation and sonic variances. “Skankin'” is another loose cover featured on this album, this time paying homage to ska legends, Fishbone.

“Best of Me” and “Run and Hide” are SWR’s attempt at harder rock/punk tunes, but Rome’s voice sounds out of place trying to conjure up some angst.

Production on the album is great, Paul Leary is the shit, but you would expect that from this album. The majority of the foundation of this record was recorded live, in true Sublime fashion, minimizing any excessive production. Sonically it is outstanding, but quite simply put, the song quality and writing falls short. This album is more Rome than Sublime and understanding that Rome is the principle songwriter only further illustrates that this is more Rome than anything else.

Fans new to Sublime will like this release, but fans of the gnarly, raw, uncut and unapologetic band we grew to love will find this album completely foreign to the legacy created by Bradley Nowell, Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh, Marshall Goodman and of course, Miguel Happoldt. This is nothing against Rome, the shoes he has to fill are of one of the best and most talented singers/songwriters to come out of independent music in the last few decades and Sublime fans hold this band close to the chest.

The attachment many have to this band has to do with the believability, honesty and down right crass songwriting which showcased a vulnerability and humility of Sublime which died with Brad Nowell. Sirens is an enjoyable listen from start to finish and ranges from dark to polished and shiny, but it is missing the borderline schizophrenic personality and stylistic influence that has become synonymous with Sublime… But this is a new era; Fire away!

Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubs

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]

WATCH: Sublime with Rome – “Wherever You Go”

10 Responses to Review: Sublime with Rome – Sirens

  1. Justin Houghton says:

    Thank you to thepier for introducing me to so many great reggae bands, and for generally writing great reviews. That being said…
    Way too high of a rating. As an objective listener; this album is shallow, lacks depth, and really anything creative at all. It is one giant poser. It seems as though you may be appeasing to the band who we will all know will look at your review. As far as being easily listenable, it’s the kind of thing you turn on, and it all seems to blend together, because it lacks dynamics. Then, the latter half of the album seems experimental, in the same way my child things he is a wizard because I bought him a wizard set for his 8th birthday. He has the wand and all the tools necessary, but no magic!

    • Mike Patti says:

      Hey Justin, great review but I can assure you that Tommy did not write this review and give it a 3/5 star rating to appease the band or management. If you look at most reviews online, it seems writers are using it as an outlet to conjure up some punchlines that feels like a Comedian with no real depth or material just picking on fans in the front row. I’m happy with the way Tommy actually provided some perspective and not just making it a “Sublime” comparison review with half-ass ignorant punchlines questioning Rome’s motive as if he was the sole decision maker to use the name ‘Sublime’. Tommy didn’t shy away from the topic either bringing out both the pros & cons unbiasedly. I think the review accurately sums up what the album is.

      • Dub Diezel says:

        I agree with Mikey P. I don’t know any of these cats personally who write for the Pier but I am an old school site visitor and have been a Pier supporter from the beginning. I remember finding the site around the first initial launch of it and have been here ever since. You’re going to get one of the most honest opinions in review for music from this scene on here IMO. Anyway back to topic of this album. Honestly and again just my personal opinion, but I look at this project as a win win for Rome and Eric. Eric is like the age of Rome’s dad. He is mentoring Rome while at the same time benefiting from a young talented song writer and artist capitalizing on the success and popularity of what WAS once Sublime and introducing an artist with talent to continue selling the Sublime name. Eric is at an age where he is probably at that retirement mindset financially. Rome on the other hand is making probably decent money doing what he loves for a living, he is showing who he is and what he has as to offer as an artist so that when Sublime with Rome is over, he will continue with solo stuff as he already has, and be a success more than likely because there are just enough people out there who like the Pacific Coast Highway type of song. I personally liked songs from ‘Your Truly’ like Punk anthem “Papercut”, and I agree Rome doesn’t necessarily have a punk rocker kind of voice, but who does, Tim Armstrong? Get what I’m saying, I mean punk is punk, as in everything is different, unique, or whatever. And then of course songs like “Panic” to me that was Sublime self-titled sounding material there. So being a huge fan of Brad and original Sublime, I still kept an open mind and that album had some good songs, I definitely can skip through tracks from it as there are probably really only 4 or 5 I liked and this new one is still going to need more time before I shun it or praise it fully. Now with this new album of only playing through it once, I gotta say the song Sirens, yea may sound cookie cutterish with the whole sampling bit but I think the track is dope and has a sick drum beat. And I agree with Tommy Dubbs on the Promise Land Dub as eve nthe title of the track just says Sublime to me. I thought the same thing as it being most Sublime tune from the album for the reasoning’s Tommy gave. But at the same time the song “Been Losing Sleep” I thought was different and a little bit out of the regular norm of even Sublime with Rome because I almost get an R&B feel to it actually with the chorus and stuff. R.I.P Brad Nowell \M/

  2. Matt S. says:

    Great review! Love the background in the beginning. Happy to hear the Nowell Estate is getting taken care of. “House Party” is my favorite song on the album. Getting a bit older now, so reminds me of my party days. Jared’s verse in Sirens is awesome!
    Solid review, don’t think this will piss anyone off, but I’m often surprised.

  3. kevin says:

    pretty sure the second sentence is wrong and they never went by the name “sublime” just “sublime with rome” at least I hope thats the case

    • Tragic1 says:

      I hope your joking. You don’t really believe that this band originally go by the name Sublime? Sublime is one of the greatest bands of pure unfiltered raw talent.

  4. Rick,,,,Just Rick says:

    Very good and accurate review here. I can appreciate it because I am one of those SUBLIME fans from way back, and for us that want that true SUBLIME sound we understandably don’t get it because it isn’t Bradley anymore it is another very talented singer/artice Rome. And with that said we / I know Rome was never trying to take Brad’s place nor even be like Him so speaking for myself I could not really get in to the SUBLIME W/ROME band even when It started with both Bud and Eric, to me it just didn’t seem that it was SUBLIME and that was ok because it wasn’t. I never really gave the band a chance but I did really like a few of their songs. I grew to learn that , that SUBLIME we all wanted with front man Bradley Nowell was never going to step on stage ever again but that it is awesome when I go to a show and SUBLIME is played by whomever so why not give Rome a chance. Rome is very talented and is a great musician and he deserves better from the old school SUBLIME fans, yes he may have stepped on some toes he may have pissed some people’s off but look at the shoes he had to fill and he continues to rock on. This review opened my eyes to widening my out look and purchasing this album, I don’t own 1 SWR album but I am going to purchace this one. Not because SUBLIME is in the Name but because what I have heard is pretty good, and I want to give Rome a chance, Sirens I like and I could see myself at the House Party,,, angain great review,

  5. Christian says:

    Great review, congrats. Brazilia and Promise Land are indeed the best tracks on the album, the other ones, despite Skankin and the two punk songs, are way too poppy..

  6. Jane Doe says:


  7. ChadAmerica says:

    Much better than the previous album for sure. I went from not really being a fan although a hard core Sublime fan to liking this band. They have discover their own identity and I love that

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